?Oslo? was based on the belief that Nazi terrorists could be
converted into Western democratic liberals with a few public
posturings and handshakes, some cold cash, and the gift of lots of
weapons. It was based on the belief that Israeli self-abasement
was the highest form of patriotism, that Israeli cowardice was the
highest form of valor, that armies and territory no longer held
any strategic value, and that Arab fascists can be tamed by being
offered high-tech investments and five-star tourist hotels.
Like a nightmare out of ?The Wizard of Oz,? the Oslo Era
consisted of Israeli governments swinging back and forth
between the brainless scarecrows of the Labor Party and the
cowardly lions of the Likud. The heartless tin men were those
liberal American Jewish leaders who urged Israel to make ever
greater concessions to the PLO — and, when their advice
inevitably led to unprecedented bloodshed, announced they
would no longer send youth tours to Israel because it had just
become too dangerous. Meanwhile, little Dorothy had no choice
but to ride Bus 37.
At the height of the madness, Shimon Peres was asked
about possible terrorist atrocities launched from the Palestinian
areas now released from Israeli ''occupation.'' Peres responded in
his typical parallel-universe style, insisting he was far more
worried about the infiltration into Israel of cable television
service than he was about the infiltration of terrorists.
The 17 human sacrifices to the pagan goddess Oslo from Bus
37 were not murdered by cable television. They were murdered
by a decade of astronomical stupidity by Israel's own political
leaders. When a snake is allowed to enter a henhouse and then
kills the hens and chicks, whose fault is it? It is not the snake's
fault. Killing hens is what snakes do. It is the fault of those who
allow the snake into the henhouse, those who proclaim the snake
is a lamb and not a snake.
In Israel, someone actually allowing snakes into an actual
henhouse would be indicted for cruelty to animals. After all, hens
have rights. It is a felony to conduct cruel experiments on animal
subjects in Israel. But Israeli humans are also a form of animal.
Oslo was a cruel experiment performed on these animals. Shimon
Peres, Yossi Beilin, and the rest of the perpetrators of Oslo are
still walking around free. Their actions and policies have
produced 1,300 murdered Israelis, nearly twice the Israeli
carnage of the Six Day War.
A couple of hours after the atrocity, I find I have wandered
into the old ghetto area, the neighborhood in which Hungary's
Jews were imprisoned during World War II and from which they
were sent to their deaths. I pass by the ''Carmel'' restaurant, a
little piece of Haifa in Budapest, although not under kosher
supervision. I enter the compound of the Jewish community
buildings, where a cafeteria serves a late lunch. I hand a beggar
some coins, suspending my usual habit of refusing spare change
to panhandlers unless they first do pushups.
It is always a mixed crowd here in the dining hall. There are
the ultra-Orthodox with shtreimels, assorted Jewish merchants
from all over the world, Israeli medical students and computer
geeks, ordinary Hungarian Jews, some of them very poor. The
manager of the cafeteria knows me from previous lunches.
''Are all of your people all right?'' he asks. I tell him that my
wife had been in the intersection five minutes before the
explosion, to pick up a birthday cake for me. But she gave up
after failing to find a parking space and went home. I have been
spared personal catastrophe because of a parking space. I myself
might well have been on the bus to the campus, had I not been
''Thank G-d you were not on the bus,'' says the manager.
''It is all thanks to your goulash,'' I respond.
The streaks of light in the sky are a little brighter now, coming
from the start of a new day and not from the yahrzeit candles.
The taxi drops me off in front of my building. Reagan and
Thatcher, my loyal family cats, are waiting for me, expecting a
handout. These panhandlers are not required to do pushups. It is
the hour for reciting the Shema. The word ''Shema'' is usually
translated as ''hear.'' But it really means ''understand.''
Understand, O Israel, for you have been pursuing a Golden
Calf of insanity and self-annihilation for the past decade,
renouncing all understanding and common sense.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His
book ''The Scout'' is available through Amazon.com.